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Yukos Sells Its 50.5% of Kopeika

Yukos has announced it will sell its 50.5 percent stake in retail chain Kopeika to the store's founder, Alexander Samonov, and investment bank NIKoil. The 50.5 percent stake, estimated to be worth $60 million, is to be sold within the next two weeks.

Upon the deal's completion, NIKoil will control 50 percent, Samonov 30 percent and Kopeika's top managers Sergey Lomakin and Artyom Khachatryan around 10 percent each.

"If they [Samonov and NIKoil] will manage Kopeika on principles of parity, this will give the chain a shot in the arm," said Alexei Mauergauz, chairman of the board of Paterson, a supermarket chain that competes with Kopeika.

"NIKoil is a portfolio investor, while Yukos was a strategic one. A portfolio investor is only interested in company's capitalization, while its management will be in the hands of Samonov's team," Mauergauz said.

The Kopeika retail chain of 36 shops was created in 1998. Its turnover last year was $182 million. In February 2002, Kopeika's owners sold a controlling stake in Felma, the chain's operator, to Yukos. Felma's assets were transferred to Kopeika, legally constituted as a trading house and created in June 2002 with a charter capital of $88 million.

In early 2002, when Yukos acquired Kopeika, there were plans to build 300 to 400 new shops, as well as mini-markets in Yukos gas stations. However, because of disagreements between the co-owners, neither of the projects was successful.

Only 12 to 14 new Kopeika shops opened and no mini-markets appeared.

(The Moscow Times 06.x.03)

 
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